Friday, September 18, 2015

Three Americans go to Semifinals in Claremont

CLAREMONT, Calif. -- Five Americans born in 1995 or 1996 took the courts at the Claremont Tennis Club in USAF26 quarterfinals on Friday, and three of them advanced to the semifinals which will be played on Saturday.

No. 2 seed Deiton Baughman was the first to secure a spot in the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Gonzales Austin less than a minute before Mackenzie McDonald joined him with a 6-2, 6-4 win over qualifier Tom Fawcett.

Collin Altamirano, who already took out No. 1 seed Marcos Giron, was the third American into the quarterfinals, crushing No. 5 seed Daniel Garza 6-2, 6-0. Pepperdine graduate Sebastian Fanselow prevented the semifinals from being four young Americans by upsetting the No. 4 seed Ernesto Escobedo with a 6-3, 7-5 victory, meaning Baughman is the only seed remaining in the draw.

Baughman has looked good despite a tough draw, not losing more than four games in any set. He will likely move into the top 400 in the world for the first time in his career on Monday regardless of his result on Saturday.

McDonald has also won six consecutive sets to reach the semifinal, including a 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 6 seed Evan Song. It hasn't been a good tournament for former UCLA No. 1 singles players with the elimination of Giron in the first round as well as Clay Thompson's first-round loss to Austin in straight sets. However, the current UCLA No. 1 is into his second futures semifinal this year after ending an impressive run by Fawcett.

Altamirano was the No. 3 singles player for National Champion Virginia Cavaliers in the spring, which he followed up by a trip to Italy during July and August. Now in his first tournament since returning from Italy, the benefits of his time in Virginia and Italy are evident in his wins over UCLA's Giron and Martin Redlicki, followed by a very convincing performance to beat Garza.

Escobedo did not have his best day in falling to Fanselow. Escobedo was playing just 10 minutes east of his home in West Covina, Calif., but to him the match was the "biggest choke of my life." Escobedo struggled to make first serves in the first set and was broken twice as a result. However, he broke to start the second set and started taking some speed off his first serve and started having a lot of success.

After Escobedo went ahead 4-2 in the second set, Fanselow turned the match around, breaking at love to even the match at 4-4. Then with Escobedo serving with new balls, Fanselow broke again to seal the match 6-3, 7-5.

Fanselow had won two futures events in Germany and reached a semifinal at a futures in California before entering the tournament, but the German had to navigate a difficult draw to reach his sixth career semifinal as a professional.

He defeated No. 8 seed Aleksandar Vukic in the first round and then had to go through fellow German Jan Meyer, who is the No. 1 singles player in NCAA Division II, playing for nearby Azusa Pacific. Meyer had won five consecutive matches to reach the second round and earn his second career ranking point. Fanselow got through Meyer in straight sets to set up his match with Escobedo.

On Saturday, Virginia No. 3 Altamirano will look to take out another UCLA representative as he takes on Bruin No. 1 McDonald. On the bottom half, Pepperdine graduate Fanselow will play No. 2 seed Deiton Baughman, who was recruited by USC, but decided to go play professionally. The first match will begin at 10 a.m. local time.

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